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The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup (though they rejected that label) consisting of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and (originally) the late Roy Orbison, who used pseudonymous Wilbury names for the two albums they recorded. Both albums were done in the spirit of fun, and the good news is that they were fun for the listener as well. Both albums mysteriously vanished from print some time during the '90's, presumably because the Wilbury record company (a Warner Bros. subsidiary jokingly described in the liner notes as a "subdivision of the Trans-Wilbury Corporation of Bulgaria/Mongolia") became defunct. Thankfully, the folks at Rhino released The Traveling Wilburys Collection in June 2007. It contained the two complete albums, four bonus tracks, and a DVD containing videos and rare footage.

On Vol. 1, the five are billed as Otis, Nelson, Charlie, Lefty, and Lucky Wilbury. Despite the light-hearted concept, the ten songs are tightly-played, sturdy and likable. Harrison shines on ensemble songs like "Handle With Care" and "End Of The Line" (two of the album's high points), although his spotlight song "Heading For The Light" is relatively weak. Petty's "Last Night" and Lynne's "Rattled" are OK, but the best spotlight songs come from Dylan (the singer-songwriter parody "Tweeter And The Monkey Man") and Orbison (the touching "Not Alone Any More").

Track Listing:

1. Handle With Care
2. Dirty World
3. Rattled
4. Last Night
5. Not Alone Any More
6. Congratulations
7. Heading For The Light
8. Margarita
9. Tweeter And The Monkey Man
10. End Of The Line

By the time the Wilburys recorded Vol. 3 (the title is another joke; there never was a Vol. 2), they had been reduced to a quartet after Orbison's death. Now billed as Muddy, Boo, Clayton, and Spike Wilbury, the remaining Wilburys sound less graceful but no less likable. Dylan is the dominant voice on this one; he seems to be having fun, and is fun to hear as well (no small feat, considering how deadening he was on his simultaneously released album Under The Red Sky). Harrison and Petty do well on their respective spotlights ("New Blue Moon", "You Took My Breath Away"), but the real enjoyment comes from the ensemble songs ("She's My Baby", "Inside Out", "Wilbury Twist"). Vol. 3 is less memorable than Vol. 1, but is an enjoyable listen.

Track Listing:

1. She's My Baby
2. Inside Out
3. If You Belonged To Me
4. The Devil's Been Busy
5. 7 Deadly Sins
6. Poor House
7. Where Were You Last Night?
8. Cool Dry Place
9. New Blue Moon
10. You Took My Breath Away
11. Wilbury Twist

See also George Harrison